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Question for all who read this: to succeed at any business venture, you merely need to have huge resources, dedicated personnel, and a quality product or service, right? From there, it’s just collecting money and living a good life.
This presumption is more common than you realize, and could not be more wrong and misguided. In a world where exponential change and digital disruptions abound, you simply cannot rest on your laurels and merely rely on what you’ve already built. Because of the rapidly accelerating rate of change, your business is only ever as strong as its next innovation.
The goal should be longevity and significance over success, not merely one big payout and coasting down a hill, using reactionary mindsets and agility as needed to dodge obstacles while you coast. So if this aforementioned mindset is not the key to a successful and, more important, significant business, what is?
An Anticipatory mindset is the answer.
Before you successfully implement a more proactive mindset of anticipation as a way to continuously innovate, gaining a better understanding of something that affects everyone in business and life is paramount: fear.
While many companies organize themselves to successfully have breakthroughs in innovation, staying ahead of disruption and change in the process, others are failing to accomplish the same because of fear or even an unnecessary overabundance of caution. Fear is generated by the unknown: the future riddled with risk that we seemingly feel is completely uncertain and dangerous. Instinctually for many, we choose to play it safe and protect and defend the status quo with agility.
However, understanding and accepting that the concept of fear is in everyone helps in shifting your team’s mindset to one of anticipation and, ultimately, abundance. Exponential change brought on by both digital disruptions and changes in the world around us make abundance a reality. Change being the only constant means not only that your business processes and products will need to change, but also that you have longevity in business in the future!
The fear of the unknown and excessive caution actually stem from the fear of time passing coupled with burnout. You and your team have done a lot of work perfecting your product, so now it’s time to reap the benefits, right? It bothers you that by tomorrow, someone may be perfecting something else that makes your product obsolete, so you cling to past success with comfort disguising complacency.
While yes, rethinking and reorganizing the fundamentals of your business processes and products can make you feel fearful and, in many cases, exhausted, the cost of doing nothing is tremendous.
The shift to an Anticipatory mindset may feel equally as nerve-wracking; however, it is positioning you to take the leading edge on tomorrow, and gets much easier as you integrate it into your everyday business practices. There is really no alternate choice; change affects everyone, just like fear as mentioned above, so it benefits you to be ahead of the curve rather than left disrupted and struggling in the future.
Saying “no” to change is lethal for businesses, and has been witnessed firsthand time and time again. Think of some big box stores that are dwindling, such as Kmart. Kmart is closing store after store, as their business model largely said “no” to innovating in a way that kept them competitive with the digital likes of Amazon and even the online options at Target and Walmart.
The innovation here did not have to be Kmart going fully online for any reason, as we know that even Amazon is putting into motion building physical stores, fully heeding my Both/And Principle I teach in my Anticipatory Leader System. What was really needed was reinventing and redefining their business process in an innovative way that marries in-person with online sales based on the Hard Trends, or future certainties, shaping the retail world.
Now if fear comes rooted in risk, what if that risk is actually based on those Hard Trend future certainties that we know will happen? For example, the Internet was most definitely a Hard Trend that was quickly disrupting Kmart’s ordinary business processes, and one that was pretty clearly headed their way.
In a way, you eliminate the fear around risk when you base those risks on future certainties. So if Kmart had decided to transform their in-person shopping experience using new technological advancements, making shopping at their stores an easier or more enjoyable experience somehow, they would likely be closing far fewer stores than they’re slated to in the coming year, especially following the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.
It is imperative that you and your organization think critically and proactively not about what might happen, but about what is absolutely inevitable. It is equally as vital to keep at the forefront of your mind that innovation does not happen in the comfort zone; it happens when you understand how much you’re going to have to grow and transform in order to not keep up with disruptive change, but to anticipate it. Accepting that everyone faces the concept of fear will help that growth feel less daunting, as we all trip, brush ourselves off, and keep pushing more times than not.
Innovation is uncomfortable because it’s new, not because it’s bad.
Now go forward and ask yourself: what can you do to create an environment at your organization that embraces the discomfort zone and fosters some serious, creative critical thinking?
Let this question penetrate your plans and practices, which in turn helps you shift to an Anticipatory mindset, and you’ll find that you have the ability to turn disruption and change into opportunity and advantage!
Daniel Burrus is considered one of the world’s leading futurists on global trends and innovation. The New York Times has referred to him as one of the top three business gurus in the highest demand as a speaker. He is a strategic advisor to executives from Fortune 500 companies, helping them to accelerate innovation and results by develop game-changing strategies based on his proven methodologies for capitalizing on technology innovations and their future impact. His client list includes companies such as Microsoft, GE, American Express, Google, Deloitte, Procter & Gamble, Honda, and IBM. He is the author of seven books, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller Flash Foresight, and his latest book The Anticipatory Organization. He is a featured writer with millions of monthly readers on the topics of innovation, change and the future and has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Wired, CNBC, and Huffington Post to name a few. He has been the featured subject of several PBS television specials and has appeared on programs such as CNN, Fox Business, and Bloomberg, and is quoted in a variety of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Fortune, and Forbes. He has founded six businesses, four of which were national leaders in the United States in the first year. He is the CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients profit from technological, social and business forces that are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities. In 1983 he became the first and only futurist to accurately identify the twenty technologies that would become the driving force of business and economic change for decades to come. He also linked exponential computing advances to economic value creation. His specialties are technology-driven trends, strategic innovation, strategic advising and planning, business keynote presentations.
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